- Associated Press - Saturday, August 15, 2015

BEATRICE, Neb. (AP) - Families come from across the nation and beyond to visit the Homestead National Monument of America and the historic features it contains.

Preservation of historical landmarks is one way generations see what life was like before they were born, the Beatrice Daily Sun (https://bit.ly/1TpKYSh ) reported.

Visitors to the Homestead witness this principle when they visit the historic Freeman School.

The Freeman School was recently under construction as members of the Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) helped tear out the floorboards of the buildings so new flooring could be installed.

The building’s interior was closed for nearly a month during the duration of the project.

Built in 1871, the school became part of the Homestead National Monument of America in 1970.

Since then, it has undergone multiple remodeling projects to preserve its history.

“We want future generations to see the stories and history this building provides,” Chief of Maintenance Rob Ruskamp said.

This is the fourth time new flooring has been installed, he said.

New tongue and groove pine joints and floorboards were installed, and designed to look the way the building did when the Homestead acquired the building.

Moisture issues underneath the building’s floorboards were causing nails to loosen and raising areas in the floor. Tripping hazards were a big cause to the renovation.

“The restoration of the flooring improves visitor safety and experience,” said Superintendent Mark Engler.

The brick, one-room schoolhouse, is now again open to visitors.

Around eight families recently visited the restored schoolhouse.

The Rogers brought their grandkids from Plattsmouth to see the Homestead as the end of summer was approaching.

“We love to get the kids out and show them this kind of stuff,” Milt Rogers said.

“We wanted them to start getting back into the rhythm of school and we thought it was fun to show them what school used to be like.”

As the family walked around the schoolhouse they saw years and names carved into the brick, what books used to be like and how small school really was.

“It’s very interesting, even for us, to see how different life used to be,” Rogers said.

“We wouldn’t be able to get away with anything like this now.”

The building is furnished with desks, books, and antique fixtures showing what life was like for students in the 1860s.

The project was anticipated to be complete in three weeks, and the work crews stayed on schedule.

“We try to do projects as often as we see fit to keep up the maintenance and have the building appearance remain as close to the original as possible,” Ruskamp said.

“With the new floors, we wanted to aesthetically keep the historic feel and the updates are important so we can stabilize everything for a long time.”


Information from: Beatrice Sun, https://www.beatricedailysun.com

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